Nakul (Ayushmann Khurrana) and his brother Gullar (Shardul Rana) are gobsmacked when they learn that their significantly older parents Jeetender (Gajraj Rao) and Priyamvada (Neena Gupta) are expecting their third child. Their grandmother, Dadi, (Surekha Sikri) also shares a similar disgust for the news. As the entire Mohalla gets to know about this, how will the family react?
Positive Points: –
- Amidst the power of two rising stars (Khurrana and Malhotra), it’s the veterans (Rao, Gupta and Sikri) who easily rise above the rest as the best performers.
- Despite its awkward plot, Badhaai Ho is a breezy, feel-good family entertainer with apposite amounts of humour and sentiments.
- This film raises an important issue which is quite relevant in conservative societies as prevalent in most parts of the country.
Negative Points: –
- Notwithstanding its social message, the movie seemed confused about whether to challenge a taboo (sex among older people) or talk about things as important and relevant as contraception/abortion.
- After a hilarious first half, the movie takes an emotional turn. Though it’s largely good, one can’t help but discern its blatant Bollywoodish nature of making where everything seems to go right for our prime characters.
- In a real case scenario, the couple would have gone for an abortion (and for the good) but the film fails to give any plausible explanation as to why they don’t.
The General Aspects: –
Forget about sex amongst older people, sex itself is a taboo in many conservative sections of India, though (thankfully) this retrograde idea is gradually receding due to general awareness. Nonetheless, many non-urban sections of the country still don’t accept it wholeheartedly as sex is viewed by them as a means to reproduce only. Amit Ravindernath Sharma’s Badhaai Ho takes on this issue through an amusing ride filled with various emotions with great effect. The first half is spent on building up the plot and the challenges in the midst of many hilarious punches which make the film largely delightful. Its seriousness shows up in the latter half as the societal caricature weighs heavily upon our characters conferring a mixture of sentimental and comical moments. One commendable thing about Akshat Ghildial’s screenplay is how it distributes the screentime amongst its characters. The first half belongs to Jeetender and Priyamvada while the second one is driven by Nakul and Renee (played by Sanya Malhotra) and Dadi remains a constant supporting character in both the cases. But the best thing about this shuffle is that Ghildial doesn’t overshadow anyone in favour of the other which is an important aspect of characterisation in any kind of storytelling.
No matter how entertaining or socially important the film was, it’s deliverance is not completely honest or streamlined. I won’t be amazed if a non-Indian viewer is confused about its social message which one might argue could have also been about contraception, an issue the movie blatantly ignores. There is a point in the movie where the older leads discuss aborting the baby but brush it off immediately (of course, otherwise how would you have made the film, right!). A careful understanding of the situation would actually make an abortion a lot more practical decision and even if the lady was sceptical of it, a family pep-talk could have convinced her to do so. One shouldn’t forget how abortion is also a serious issue not just in India but across the world and given so many serious issues muddled up in a simple narrative, it’s only fair if someone questions the way the narrative has been carried out. The final verdict is, nevertheless and as always, left upon the viewer’s discretion and understanding.
Ayushmann Khurrana and Sanya Malhotra are no doubt good, as is expected from them, but the movie belongs to the veterans without an ounce of doubt. Gajraj Rao is not only spot on with his comic timing but also presents the emotional side of his character with flair. His portrayal of his character’s vulnerabilities is hilarious and touching at times. Not to forget his delectable chemistry with Neena Gupta who also shines brilliantly in a character torn between motherly love and the unsympathetic nature of the society to marital things. But my favourite in the lot was Surekha Sikri who was fabulous as Dadi. She’s grumpy and irritating at one time but loving and indelibly sweet at the other. The scene where she protects her daughter-in-law from the harsh taunts of her relatives is probably the best in the film and she absolutely nails it.
Final Words: –
Badhaai Ho is both a hit and a miss, depending upon the viewer’s interpretation of the message it conveys. But for almost everyone, it’s a delightful entertainer with an apt share of laughs and cries which seldom fall out of effect. You may or may not connect with it, but you’ll definitely enjoy its simplicity and subtlety.